The Federal Republic of Germany(West Germany) has been one of the important destination countries in Europe, despite the fact that until the reunification politicians have long refuse to acknowledge West Germany as an immigration country. The purposes of immigrants to West Germany were diverse. But three main types of international migration in West Germany were labor immigration, the immigration of ethnic Germans, and the immigration of non-German refugees and asylum seekers. While migrant workers were expected to stay only temporarily in West Germany, ethnic Germans were expected to stay permanently.
Between 1945 and 1949, nearly 9.5 million German refugees and expellees flocked to the territory of today's Germany and about 9 million returnees settled in the western part of the country. Their acceptance and integration in general was eased by their ethnic origin, and the post-war economic boom. In real, they have had to undergo a real immigration process involving national identity, language, and cultural framework, although they are not foreigners according to the German Basic Law, and this situation continues to this day. Today, Aussiedler as Germans have the right of naturalization. Between 1945 and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, 3.8 million Germans moved from East Germany (the German Democratic Republic) to West Germany. In fact, obstacles like the wall failed to completely stem this flow. This immigration was welcomed economically by the West Germany's expanding industrial sector and politically as a rejection of East German regime's communist political and economic system.
During the 1950s and 1960s, West Germany signed bilateral recruitment agreements with Italy in 1955, Spain and Greece in 1960, Turkey in 1961, Morocco in 1963, Portugal in 1964, Tunisia in 1965 and Yugoslavia in 1968. These agreements allowed the recruitment of Gastarbeiter(Guest Workers) to work in the industrial sector for jobs that required few qualifications. During the 1950s West Germany experienced a so-called Wirtschaftswunder(economic miracle) and needed more laborers. At first, Gastarbeiter received a work and residence permit for 1 year. This implied a rotation of the recruited workers, and the rule of forced rotation was changed gradually to allow workers to apply for permits to stay for 2 years, and, for 5 additional years. However, the rotation system failed – on the immigrants’ side because the workers tended to stay in West Germany for a longer time than anticipated, and on the employers’ side because the training costs for new workers were regarded as too high.
In 1973, West Germany as well as other Western European conuntries decided to discontinue the Gastarbeiter policies. As a reaction to the end of recruitment, Gastarbeiter brought their families to live in West Germany, because family reunification was possible even after the recruitment ban. Half of the total immigration to West Germany in the next time consisted of family members. The immigrant workers became increasingly to stay permanently. Because Gastarbeiter had been building up social networks consisting of families, associations, and religious communities, a stable and great immigrant population was formed in West Germany. In the year 1990 the number of the immigrant workers exceeded the 5 million line. Since the mid-1980s increase of refugees and asylum seekers from the former Yugoslavia and from developing countries caused also this exceeding of the 5 million immigrants.
In the Germany’s immigration history from the end of the World War II to the German reunification, the economy played the most important role: demand and supply in the German labor market. Multiculturalism and the social integration of the immigrants were, and are not so important as the economic reason.